I am blessed with a good memory of my childhood (which is strange in and of itself as I often can’t remember what I ate yesterday). I lived in a time where we could leave our doors open, when there weren’t leash laws so dogs followed the children playfully throughout the neighborhood, a time where mud pies and ‘lightening bugs’ were the highlight of a summer, and a time where the biggest worry was what everyone was going to wear the first day of school. The neighborhood I grew up in is now one that no one would want to drive through without being fully armed, but when I lived there it was full of young families where every mother knew every child and didn’t hesitate to scold you and send you home for dinner.
Summers were spent outside since there weren’t a lot of families with video games. My family bought a Nintendo64, but we were the kids that would rather play flashlight hide and seek rather than be inside with the ‘old people’. One of my memories isn’t just one at all. Nearly every day I spent time laying at the top of the big hill of our driveway staring up at the clouds watching them morph from dinosaurs to Volkswagens. I could do that for hours, and often did when time permitted. It was laying there and looking into the blue sky that I began to dream of a future I could hardly imagine. As a child, it was hard for me to think past Christmas that year, let alone ten or fifteen years ahead. It wasn’t until the game MASH became popular that made me really start to give my future self some thought. I had big dreams. I was going to live in a Mansion, marry Donnie Wahlberg from New Kids on the Block, drive a red mustang, live in California, have 3 kids, and be a teacher. Yes, I was going to be very happy and this little game started my most memorable childhood dream.
Naturally, I knew I wasn’t going to marry Donnie Wahlberg, but everything else seemed plausible in my mind though I later changed my idea of a Mansion to a really nice middleclass brick home. The only thing that really panned out was that I am a mother to three children. In my dreams, I never really considered becoming pregnant at 18, dropping out of college, spending three years as a single mom, eventually marrying the father of my son, and struggling to just stay within the lower-middle-class spectrum. Those weren’t my dreams at all, even sans the MASH game.
For years I struggled with this. I had to let my childhood dreams go and welcome reality. I realized that the loss of my dreams didn’t change the quality of the life I’ve lived. We have finally landed squarely in a decent home, have an SUV big enough to cart around a 10, 11, and 15 year old, a retirement plan, and while I’m not a teacher, I get to play one at home when homework is too hard. Dreams have a way a making one feel inadequate when they don’t come true, but I’m just happy to have what I have.
This is my submission to the weekly writing prompt from Studio Thirty Plus